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Kirill Postoutenko


Current position: Senior Researcher, University of Bielefeld, Germany.

During his AIAS Cofund Senior Fellowship, Professor Kirill Postoutenko worked on the project "“Beasts” vs. “Supermen”: Asymmetrical Mapping of Conceptual Landscapes in Bolshevik Russia, Nazi Germany and ‘New Deal’- United States".

AIAS project

The proposed project for the first time tracks down the specific roles and functions of asymmetrical concepts, looking at both media messages and population feedbacks in two “totalitarian” (Soviet Union, Nazi Germany) and one “democratic” (‘New Deal’-United States) countries in 1933-1939. The special attention is paid to the links between asymmetrical concepts and socio-political asymmetries:  the preliminary analysis shows that 20th century totalitarian regimes resort to the most drastic conceptual asymmetries - from ‘Übermenschen’ vs. ‘Untermenschen’ to ‘Bolsheviks’ vs. ’mad dogs’ – in proportion to the ossification of their organizational and communicative hierarchies. Besides, the interplays between mainstream conceptual asymmetries and other forms of semantic manipulation (such as deictic references to time and space) are looked at closely: a sample of the late Nazi rhetoric shows how ‘Jewish parasites’ are steadily excluded from ‘tomorrow’ - year after year.

Short bio

Kirill Postoutenko is Professor in Russian literature and culture. He was a Senior Fellow at AIAS from 2015-2017. He has held research and teaching appointments at University of Helsinki (Finlands), the Universities of Munich and  Constance (Germany), Columbia University and University of Southern California (USA), IEA and ENS/Rue d’Ulm (France), Queen Mary, University of London (UK) and University of the Basque Country (Spain). He is an author and editor of 6 books and 80 articles devoted to the history of Russian poetry and literary criticism, social history of identity, history of media in communication ion Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.